A Runaway Father's Odyssey by Xerolo44 | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 5: The Garrison's Challenge

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With the task firmly in hand, Benedikt navigated through the labyrinthine streets until he arrived at one of the many garrisons scattered across the city. Standing before its entrance, the weathered stone walls loomed above him, bearing the scars of countless battles. Even before crossing the threshold, the muffled sounds of recruits engaging in boisterous banter echoed through the air, creating an atmosphere of controlled chaos.

Upon entering the garrison, the clamor intensified, revealing the rough camaraderie among the recruits. Amidst the spirited commotion, Benedikt caught the attention of a figure who exuded an air of authority – the presumed commander of this particular garrison. His eyes locked with Benedikt's, and with a gruff tone, he declared, "Aye, this ain't a place for retired guys."

The words stung, and Benedikt, feeling insulted, retorted with a hint of threat, "I'm long from retired. I could lay you out on the ground with one well-placed hit."

Unfazed, the commander, revealed as Elias, maintained his composure. "Ah, maybe I was too harsh on ya. You seem to still have some spirit. What's your reason to be here, old man?" Elias inquired, his curiosity piqued.

Benedikt, amused by the exchange, responded with a wry grin, "The reason depends on who you are."

"I'm Elias, the current commander of this ill-forsaken company of idiots," Elias disclosed, and Benedikt couldn't help but burst into laughter. With a twinkle in his eye, Benedikt quipped, "Idiots make the best cannon fodder."

"Aye, indeed, but it ain't a help if they're too dumb to hold a sword or even a butterknife," Elias remarked, his disappointment evident as he shook his head.

"I noticed you're in need of guardsmen. Is that still the case? And why, might I ask, are you a commander at such a young age?" Benedikt inquired, extending the task he had acquired from the bulletin board.

"It's still true, we're in search of guardsmen. The story behind my command is intertwined with it. My predecessor had a penchant for lining his pockets, and the nobility didn't take kindly to that. Are you sure you want to be a guardsman? The job is shit, and the pay is even shitter."

"I'm sure I want to be a guardsman. I guess I should introduce myself a bit. My name is Benedikt, and I'm a-" Benedikt was abruptly cut off.

"I don't need more than your name. The less I know, the better. The fact that you're willing to be a guardsman already tells me the less I know, the better it is for my own head," Elias calmly stated, sizing up Benedikt.

"Well, do you want to join the training? It starts in roughly 10 minutes. You came at the perfect time," Elias asked, expecting a rejection. To his surprise, Benedikt agreed. Elias continued and guided Benedikt to the armory of the garrison. "Well, here is the armory. Pick up an armor set and a weapon. We have everything: spears, swords, and even crossbows, since the war is right around the corner," he said. Elias then unlocked the armory, observing as Benedikt chose a middle-heavy armor set, a combination of leather and chainmail, and a bastard sword.

"No shield?" Elias asked curiously.

"No need. You said they are idiots. I won't need a shield for idiots," Benedikt responded seriously, with a laugh.

"Well, if you say so," Elias replied, also letting out a chuckle.

After they ascended from the basement where the armory was located, Elias stood with shoulders wide and instructed Benedikt to cover his ears. Once Benedikt complied, Elias let out a warcry with the strength that echoed through the garrison, "RECRUITS, GATHER AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE GARRISON! WE WILL MOVE TO THE TRAINING FIELD."

And within 2 minutes, 18 recruits stood before Benedikt and Elias. As Benedikt attempted to align himself with the recruits, Elias stopped him, grasping his shoulder. Elias then issued a quieter command, "RECRUITS, THIS MAN CLAIMS YOU ARE ALL IDIOTS AND THAT HE CAN BEAT YOU ALL WITHOUT A SHIELD JUST WITH ARMOR AND SWORD."

Upon hearing this, Benedikt was shocked, realizing he never made such a statement. However, when he glanced at Elias, he noticed the man grinning, seemingly having the time of his life. Elias continued with a louder proclamation, "SO, MY RECRUITS, WILL YOU SHOW HIM THE STRENGTH OF OUR GARRISON, OR WILL YOU ALLOW US TO BE BEATEN BY AN OLD MAN WHO CAN'T EVEN EAT SOLID FOOD ANYMORE?"

The recruits, who previously appeared to be goofing around and not concentrating, responded in unison, "WE WILL BEAT HIM AND PROVE OUR WORTH TO THE CITY." At this point, Benedikt felt like Elias had outplayed himself, but instead of getting frustrated, he found himself happy. A smile crept onto his face as he contemplated the challenge ahead. Before Elias could say anything, Benedikt spoke up with a shout of his own, "I WILL BET ON MY OLD BONES THAT NOT ONE OF YOU GREEN HORNS WILL BEAT ME."

Elias couldn't contain his laughter any longer. "SEE, RECRUITS, THIS OLD MAN NEEDS A BEATING," he exclaimed, and the recruits responded in unison, "YES, COMMANDER." "FOLLOW ME, RECRUITS," Elias directed, leading both his recruits and Benedikt to the training grounds.

The training ground appeared weathered but purposeful, clearly designed for soldiers. Wooden palisades surrounded the area, adorned with sword cuts and arrows embedded within. The atmosphere here differed significantly from the city, evoking a sense of familiarity and belonging for Benedikt. Instinctively, he found himself gripping the hilt of his sword, a broad grin spreading across his face.

"It's been years since I was at a place like this," Benedikt remarked with a visibly happy expression, his voice resonating with anticipation. The air carried the essence of training and combat, and Benedikt felt a surge of comfort in this environment.

"STAND IN ROW, RECRUITS, AND BENEDIKT, COME TO MY SIDE AGAIN," Elias commanded, and the recruits promptly followed suit.

Turning to Benedikt, Elias explained, "In this Garrison, our structure differs from the others. As you've noticed, we are relatively small, but that's because the city garrison is divided into multiple groups. Regardless, we have me as the commander and three squad leaders. DANIEL, DAVID, LAURIN, STEP FORWARD." At Elias's words, three men stepped up, one youthful, named Daniel, another in his middle years named David, and a man just a few years younger than Henry, though still considered old called Laurin.

"Benedikt, these are my squad leaders. You will first spar with each of them, and afterward, you can take on the regular recruits," Elias said calmly, a grin playing on his face. "Enjoy it, you won't get this chance every day," he added. Benedikt responded confidently, "Oh, I will enjoy it so much you can't even imagine."

With all necessary words exchanged, Benedikt squared off against Laurin, one of the squad leaders. The two men faced each other – Benedikt donned in his middleweight armor, a blend of chainmail and leather, wielding only a bastard sword, Laurin clad in a heavy plate mail armor, armed with a morning star. Benedikt sensed that the matchup could turn against him swiftly.

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